Axios Dallas

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Happy Thursday! Authenticity can be exhausting.

β˜€οΈ Today's weather: Just right, like Baby Bear's porridge. High of 71.

🎡 Sounds like: "Goin' Through the Big D"

πŸ€– Situational awareness: Most written responses on the STAAR test will be graded by computers β€” and not by a person β€” after the Texas Education Agency rolled out a new model for evaluating student answers.

Today's newsletter is 946 animalistic words β€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Street fixes, new parks make up bulk of Dallas bond package

Street fixes will be on the ballot in May. Photo: Kathy Tran/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Dallas voters will get the chance in May to approve $1.25 billion in bond money to fix streets, develop new parks, and update libraries and cultural facilities.

Why it matters: Dallas' municipal bond programs have been transformational for over a century β€” providing funding for projects ranging from building a water filtration plant at White Rock Lake in the 1920s to building City Hall.

Driving the news: Yesterday, the City Council approved sending the bond package to voters in May after several delays in the process.

  • This week was the deadline to set a May election. Otherwise, the council could've put the bond propositions on the ballot in November.
  • Council member Adam Bazaldua cast the only vote against setting the May election.

Yes, but: Voter turnout in May elections is notoriously low. In last year's mayoral and council election, less than 9% of Dallas County voters cast a ballot.

Of note: City officials have said they wouldn't need to increase Dallas' tax rate to repay the bond debt.

Details: Voters would need to approve multiple propositions for the full $1.25 in bond money to be dispersed. Here are the first five bond proposals:

🚦 Proposition A β€” $516.5 million for building and reconstructing streets, building sidewalks, bikeways, street lighting and other transportation projects.

  • The estimated cost of repayment for the 20-year bonds is nearly $720 million.

🌳 Proposition B β€” $343.5 million for parks and recreation.

  • $479 million is the estimated repayment cost.

πŸ’§ Proposition C β€” $52.1 million for expanding flood protection and drainage facilities.

  • $72.6 million is the estimated repayment cost.

πŸ“š Proposition D β€” $43.5 million for renovating city libraries and building a new Bishop Arts Library.

  • $60.7 million is the estimated repayment cost.

🎭 Proposition E β€” $75.2 million for updating cultural and performing arts facilities, including the Meyerson Symphony Center and the Dallas Museum of Art.

  • $104.8 million is the estimated repayment cost.

What's next: City staff will provide a more detailed breakdown of how the money in each proposition will be spent by the end of the month.

The rest of the bond proposals

2. πŸ§₯ D Magazine editor subpoenaed in mayor's divorce

Mayor Eric Johnson in the leather jacket that's stirred up so much trouble. Photo: Omar Vega/Getty Images

D Magazine editor Tim Rogers was subpoenaed to testify this week in Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson's divorce trial.

  • The subpoena was related to an April 2023 blog post Rogers wrote commenting on Johnson's leather jacket, noting the mayor was giving off a "hey-ladies-this-divorced-dad-is-back-on-the-market vibe."

Why it matters: Rogers made it clear at the time that he was joking. It wasn't public then, but Johnson β€” who has three children β€” was actually getting divorced and had apparently accused his wife of communicating with the press.

What happened: An attorney representing Nakita Johnson, the mayor's soon-to-be-ex, contacted Rogers and eventually had him subpoenaed to testify.

  • Rogers was sworn in and spent the day in the hall outside the courtroom, but was never called to the stand.
  • Yes, but: D's online editorial director, Matt Goodman, remained in the courtroom to cover the trial.

Flashback: Fresh off a successful re-election, Johnson announced in September that he was switching parties, from Democrat to Republican.

The intrigue: Upon learning that two people from D Magazine were in the courtroom, Johnson's attorney asked the judge to close the court.

  • The request was denied. Texas law says "all courts shall be open" to the public.

Go deeper: Read Goodman's account of what happened in court, including allegations of infidelity.

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3. 🎊 Axios Dallas Weekender

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

πŸ“– Honor Black history. Dallas, Frisco and Fort Worth are among the North Texas cities promoting events tied to Black History Month, which is celebrated every February.

  • Visit the African American Museum in Dallas, home to one of the largest African American Folk Art collections in the country.

πŸͺ΄ Tend to your roots. The third annual Fort Worth Home & Garden Show will hold seminars with master gardeners, plants for sale and home improvement tips.

  • Friday–Sunday at the Will Rogers Memorial Center. Entry is free.

πŸ‘Ÿ Rock your kicks. Sneakerheads will unite in Dallas this weekend for a trade show with shoe trades and sales.

  • 1–6pm Sunday. Tickets start at $25.

πŸš‚ Go cuckoo for choo choos. The Grapevine Vintage Railroad, which runs from downtown Grapevine to the Fort Worth Stockyards, resumes service this weekend.

  • Saturday, from Grapevine's Main Street. Fares start at $18.

4. πŸ—ž Burnt ends: Bite-sized news bits

The suspension is exciting. Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

❌ Arlington's Parkway Central Park was closed Wednesday after two children were reportedly bit by the same coyote. (WFAA)

🚨 The Arlington City Council approved a $1.9 million settlement to the family of a 23-year-old man fatally shot by a police officer in 2017. (DMN)

🦍 The Fort Worth Zoo announced the birth of a gorilla through an emergency C-section, with help from medical professionals. (FOX4)

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5. πŸ¦“ One safari you can buy to go

"Hi. I'm a zebra. Would you like to own me?" Photo: Teng Junwei/Xinhua via Getty Images

Do you have a few million dollars and an abiding desire to own exotic animals that shouldn't live in Texas?

Driving the news: The Rocky Ridge Drive-Thru safari in Eustace β€” about an hour southeast of Dallas β€” is up for sale.

The listing price: $4.5 million. That includes roughly 200 acres and, presumably, around 400 animals β€” 25 different species from all over the world, according to Rocky Ridge's website.

  • The menagerie includes zebras, camels, bison, gazelles, llamas, emus, deer and, of course, urial sheep β€” almost none of which are native to Texas.

Details: The real estate listing also mentions that the business takes in $600,000 in annual revenue.

Reality check: It doesn't say how much it costs to feed and care for all those animals.

The bottom line: If you buy this and invite us, we'll bring our own protein pellets. (Tasha keeps extra.)

This newsletter was edited by Bob Gee and copy edited by Nicole Ortiz.

Our picks:

😬 Mike is reading this riveting New Yorker story about a teenager who got swept up in London's gangster-laden underground.

🍹 Tasha is stoked La Casita is going to open a bakery and tiki bar in her favorite bookstore.

🍿 Naheed is looking up how much emus eat in a year.

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